Consumers Still Have a Limited Understanding of the Internet, #whoops

A recent survey called “What Internet Users Know about Technology and the Web,” conducted from September 12 to 18, 2014 by Pew Research Center polled 1,066 American Internet users on questions regarding the Internet and related technologies. Questions included where hashtags are used, who Bill Gates is, and what Moore’s Law Means. The survey found that the majority of study participants had a limited understanding of Net Neutrality and privacy. Sixty-one percent correctly identified Net Neutrality, and 44 percent of participants responded correctly to the question regarding company privacy policies.

Regarding the limited understanding of Net Neutrality, Aaron Smith, senior researcher for the Pew’s Internet Project, says,

It is a fairly technical issue, so the fact that many people are at least aware of the terms of the debate could be interpreted as fairly significant evidence of how much this has penetrated the popular discussion.”

And in terms of consumer privacy he noted,

 In terms of privacy policy awareness, we found it notable how much knowledge on this issue has not changed over the years…Despite all of the data breaches, news stories, and policy discussions that have been happening around this issue over the last decade, Americans are not substantially more informed about this subject than they were a decade ago.”

Demographically, younger Internet users performed best on the quiz, with those ages 18 to 19 answering 60 percent of questions correctly. Participants ages 65 and up answer 45 percent of questions correctly. Young Internet users were revealed to be more knowledgeable, especially in regards to questions involving social media and common Internet conventions.

Industry analysts claim the survey emphasizes a growing problem in the US – a generation that is reliant on technology but has little understanding of the potential risks of online transactions. As quoted in a piece by the Associated Press, Smith notes,

Just because people use these gadgets a lot doesn’t necessarily mean they know everything about how they work and where they came from.”

Take the Web IQ Quiz here.


Read more here- “Pew: Americans Not So Internet Savvy, Lack Insight on Privacy, Net Neutrality,” (Christan de Looper, Tech Times)

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Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.


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